Wollongong United claim Bert Bampton Cup

Wollongong United players and supporters celebrate winning the Bert Bampton Cup.

Wollongong United players and supporters celebrate winning the Bert Bampton Cup.

A Colossal defensive performance helped Wollongong United claim the Bert Bampton Cup in a 1-0 win over Port Kembla on Sunday.

The Reds' back four, marshalled by man-of-the-match Billy Tsovolos, were outstanding in the decider and limited the defending league premiers to just a handful of chances to guide their side to the silverware.

Adrian Nikolovski slotted the only goal, finishing with aplomb from inside 12-yards mid-way through the first half.

But it was United's defence who deserved all the credit for the win.

"Credit to Port Kembla with the amount of possession that they had but that doesn't win you Grand Finals. We had a very strong defensive game and that is why we came out victors," United coach Oliver Vrtkovski said.

"We didn't let them play and when we got the opportunity we banged one home.

"Man-of-the-match Billy Tsovolos was an absolute conductor ... a maestro at the back. And Benny Brooks was absolutely commendable."

The central duo helped repel sustained periods of pressure throughout the 90 minutes.

From the opening whistle, Port had the weight of possession but couldn't find a way past the Red last line.

Port's Karouna Micheal blazed over from a tight angle with less than 15 minutes played before Mitchell Scazzeriello fired wide of the mark just minutes later.

Just when the pressure in the attacking third looked destined to prosper, they found themselves behind.

A looped cross to the back post found Robbie Shields in space and the reigning George Naylor medallist whipped in a dangerous low ball for Nikolovski to fire home in the 24th minute.

Trailing at the break, Port again had the better of possession to start the second stanza but couldn't find the net.

Matt Tesoriero had a shot brilliantly saved by Matt White while Matt Floro and Nuno Pires both found themselves continually shut down by tight Reds defence.

United - who were without five regular first graders - nearly added to their tally inside the final minutes when Port keeper David Poeira was caught off his line.

In the end the one goal was enough to give coach Vrtkovski his first trophy in his debut year in charge at United.

"It feels fantastic. A lot of people have underestimated us particularly because I am an inaugural coach. I am silencing some of those critics," Vrtkovski said.

"We have won 11 straight and we have a trophy in the bank. Credit to the boys ... they have come together as a team."

In the opposite dressing room, beaten coach Stuart Beedie was left ruing his sides' inability to break United down.

"I thought most of the first half we dominated the game. We had most of the ball and most of the chances. We didn't convert," Beedie said.

"They played a very defensive minded game and had a lot of long balls. They didn't really catch us out in terms of goals but they always looked pretty dangerous sending long balls over the top. It is out of the way now, we will forget about it and move on."

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